Alex Glenn  Picture: Adam Head
Alex Glenn Picture: Adam Head

Lucky ticket drove Glenn from gang life to Red Hill

It was the freakish life-changing trip that took a Kiwi mother of three to the Gold Coast ... and would make her eldest son one of the Broncos' greatest servants.

Alex Glenn, the proud New Zealander who escaped a life of gangs and crime to become the heart-and-soul of the Broncos forward pack, still shakes his head at the twist of fate that delivered him to Red Hill.

Amid the hype surrounding State of Origin, it could be easy to miss a special milestone for Glenn, who plays his 250th top-grade game for the Broncos this Sunday against the Titans at Suncorp Stadium.

It is fitting Glenn should run out to face the Gold Coast. For it was the club that first tried to sign him way back in 2008 ... and the region in which his mum Ann settled after a lucky raffle ticket paid unfathomable dividends.

"I still can't believe how my life has worked out," says Glenn, who will have partner Jemma and their young children Miller and Gisele in the Suncorp stands to celebrate his outstanding achievement.

"My mum actually won a holiday to the Gold Coast - it was a flight for three people.

"I'm one of the three kids, but I was tied up with sporting commitments in New Zealand, so I couldn't make it over. My younger brother (Richard) and sister (Davina) went over with mum.

"It was only a brief holiday, but mum fell in love with the place.

 

Glenn was a star in Brisbane’s U20s side.
Glenn was a star in Brisbane’s U20s side.

 

"She saw an opportunity for us kids to have a better life.

"Growing up in Auckland, there are some rough areas and you can be limited with opportunities to chase your dreams.

"For me, I always had a dream to be a rugby player, but Mum felt the education system was better here and she believed life on the Gold Coast could be a better place for us as a family.

"She came back from the holiday and said, 'Alex, what do you think about moving to Australia'. I said, 'Sweet, that sounds good'.

"Three months later, we packed up, moved over and the rest is history."

Glenn was 14 at the time of his family's swift departure to build a new life.

Within six years, Glenn, a rugby league tragic, was so dominant at Burleigh he attracted the attention of the Titans, who were in their embryonic years as an NRL club, but the pulling power of then Broncos super coach Wayne Bennett sealed the deal.

 

Glenn will play his 250th NRL game for Brisbane in Round 13. Picture: Darren England
Glenn will play his 250th NRL game for Brisbane in Round 13. Picture: Darren England

 

Glenn was Bennett's final signing in 2008 before he left the Broncos to coach St George Illawarra and when the master mentor returned to Red Hill in 2015, the kid from the Auckland suburb of Beach Haven was still there.

"The Titans actually tried to sign me years ago," Glenn says.

"There was some interest but then the Broncos heard about me and Wayne Bennett down to have a chat with me.

"That blew me away ... to think a great coach like Wayne wanted me, so I made the decision to join the Broncos and it was the right decision."

Now 30, Glenn may not steal headlines like Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith or Kalyn Ponga but NRL clubs are built on men with his professionalism, popularity, passion and industry.

His footballing resume is seriously commendable.

 

Young gun Glenn as a schoolboy in 2005. Picture: Jono Searle
Young gun Glenn as a schoolboy in 2005. Picture: Jono Searle

 

Reaching game No.250 makes Glenn the eighth most-capped player in Broncos history. If he stays injury-free, he will enter the top five this season, leapfrogging Brisbane greats Allan Langer (258), Andrew Gee (255) and Shane Webcke (254).

By the age of 22, he was Brisbane's youngest captain, leading the Broncos out against Canberra in 2011.

Underlining his durability and consistency, Glenn has never played fewer than 20 games in a single campaign for 10 consecutive years.

"I'm really proud to reach this milestone," he said.

"It's been a dream come true.

 

Glenn captained Brisbane’s NYC team.
Glenn captained Brisbane’s NYC team.

 

"To look back and think I would one day play 250 games, I just simply couldn't imagine that.

"To do it at a great club like the Broncos, I am very grateful to be able wear the jersey so many times."

Bennett adds: "He's a pretty outstanding young man. His mannerisms and the way he cares about everybody, everyone is important to him.

"He's genuine, he's not false, he's the real deal.

"He's very valued because he stands for things and he's someone you can trust on the field."

Glenn often wonders what he would have done with his life had his mum stayed in the country he has represented four times.

"I grew up in a tough neighbourhood," he says.

 

Darren Lockyer is Brisbane’s most capped player of all time.
Darren Lockyer is Brisbane’s most capped player of all time.

 

"I was surrounded by gangs. There were bad influences and people out there trying to get some quick money. I'm not bagging that area, but the reality was there were bad distractions and mum wanted to keep us away from a life of crime.

"I wanted to make sure I didn't fall into that."

Now Glenn faces another scrap ... winning a new Broncos contract. The in-form back-rower remains off-contract and is determined to sign one final deal to finish his career at his beloved Broncos.

"I love the Broncos as a club, it's like a family to me and I want to secure my future here," he said.

"I look at the young kids here and I want to be a leader to inspire them.

"My body feels great. I could play another two years easily ... I have more to give to this great club."

 

Glenn is closing in on the games tally of Broncos legend Shane Webcke. Picture: Kate Czerny
Glenn is closing in on the games tally of Broncos legend Shane Webcke. Picture: Kate Czerny

 

 

TOP TEN BRONCOS

Most first-grade games for Brisbane:

355 Darren Lockyer (1995-2011)

347 Corey Parker (2001-2016)

304 Sam Thaiday (2003-2018)

274 Michael Hancock (1988-2000)

258 Allan Langer (1988-99, 2002)

255 Andrew Gee (1989-99, 2002-03)

254 Shane Webcke (1995-2006)

250* Alex Glenn (2009-2019)

244* Andrew McCullough (2008-2019)

241 Kevin Walters (1990-2001)

News Corp Australia


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